Friday, December 7, 2018

A Train of Brake Lights Extending?

Rest in Peace, Pete Shelley.


Susan Briante

On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
           illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for 
              diabetes strips.
A system under the system with its black box.                     Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?
Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings               through the alleyway.
My mother’s riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
              chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor
              can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in 
centers? Birds pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights
extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution            will my daughter feed?
A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining            as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death?                 Who will read this
in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,
a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem
waiting to be redacted:                         Which would you cross out?


  1. It gets old after awhile. Walking Manhattan, that is. Not Pete Shelley. I once calculated that I walked ~2.5 miles every morning (taking kids to 2 separate neighborhood schools, getting on and off subways, getting to office) + eight (IIRC, it might've been more) flights of steps. All in expensive wool suits, white collared shirts, leather soled shoes, overcoats, etc. In all weathers.

  2. Grew up in a small town; everything was (about) a fifteen minute walk from any other place. Moving to Midtown for a year in the late 70's, it was the big city; Wow! All the walking was amazing, until, slowly, it became wasn't. Still an amazing place.